CycleLabs have just finished their Kickstarter campaign for a cycling product designed to help navigate and track routes, as well as prevent theft. Amazingly, the whole project was funded within 15 hours. CycleLabs then went on to exceed their target by a factor of eight!
The product is called the SmartHalo. It’s a light-based interface that pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth to help you navigate along routes that you’ve planned in the CycleLabs app. You can then put your smartphone in your pocket and the SmartHalo will do it’s magic. Arcs of green light indicate left and right turns for you, while a red semi-circle at the bottom calls for you to make a U-turn. When the whole circle is green, you’ve reached your destination.
I have been that guy who stares at his smartphone maps while riding, trying to determine when to turn next. Frankly, it’s a dangerous pursuit, and I would therefore welcome this minimalist interface to guide me through unfamiliar places.
The device also tracks metrics like time, distance, elevation and calories, and can be programmed to give you call notifications and weather alerts. There’s no on/off button, instead the SmartHalo automatically detects motion and turns itself off when left alone.
There’s a built-in 250 lumen light which is should be bright enough to illuminate the darkest paths, but keep in mind that heavy usage of the light will drain the battery fast. Under ‘normal’ usage the product is expected to run for three weeks, but may only last a single night on a long bike with the light on.
The SmartHalo also features a built-in alarm system. Similar to a car alarm, the motion sensors detect when the bike is being moved and the device emits a loud noise to warn off thieves. Users are recognised by their smartphones and the alarm is automatically turned off. If your phone battery is dead, you can manually turn off the alarm with a unique tapcode.
It mounts permanently on your handlebars using a special key to prevent theft, but for the USB recharging you will need to remove the device from your bike. This is said to only take seconds.
There is a lot of product potential here for bicycle travellers. I really hope the mapping functionality is not limited by a single app in the longer term. It would be amazing to be able to create offline mapping routes using OpenSource maps and have the SmartHalo navigate you along through complex road networks when you’re travelling. The alarm would also be a nice feature for those times when you need to run into a supermarket or restaurant.
Like all first generation products there is a risk involved in ordering something that is not tested in the long term. But if you have faith in the concept the SmartHalo is shipping May 2016 and will set you back US $149.
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